Thousands line Windrush as river football returns to Bourton

One of the Cotswolds’ most unique traditions made a welcome return over the bank holiday weekend.

Two teams braved chilly water to take part in the annual Football In The River match in Bourton on Monday.

The 30-minute game was played out between mixed teams of Bourton Rovers 1st XI and 2nd XI, kicking off at 11.30am.

Around 2,000 spectators lined the river to cheer on the five-a-side squads as they battled for bragging rights whilst ankle-deep in the Windrush.

Jack Galpin, who refereed the game dressed as a woman, said: “It is brilliant to have the crowds back as the last couple of years have been a lot quieter during the pandemic.

“It is brilliant for us as a club as this event is our main fundraiser for the year and it was amazing to see so many people watching.”

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Around 2,000 spectators lined the River Windrush to watch the matchAround 2,000 spectators lined the River Windrush to watch the match

It is not clear how the idea of playing a football match in a river first arose, but the tradition has reportedly been going strong for around 100 years.

The match regularly draws large crowds and fans are advised to wear waterproofs if they plan to stand close to the side of the “pitch”.

This year’s match ended 3-3 after the 2nd XI in yellow shirts scored a last minute equaliser when the ref was distracted.

The 1st XI had taken an early lead and a second goal was ruled out after the referee consulted the riverside VAR.

The second half started with the 1st XI 2-1 up and they quickly made it 3-1 before the 2nd XI missed a controversial penalty when it was saved by the goalkeeper.

The 2nd XI came back into the game when the 1st XI had a player sent off for a second bookable offence and pulled the game back to 3-2.

They had an equaliser chalked off by the ref for collapsing the goal posts but at the death brought the game to 3-3 with the last kick of the game.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: The match ended 3-3The match ended 3-3

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